Tricia Downing

Tricia Downing

After being hit by a car, Tricia Downing went from being a competitive cyclist to a paraplegic requiring a wheelchair for mobility. Now she is a dynamic disability advocate who is passionate about building communities, creating a sense of belonging, and empowering organizations to include disability in the diversity conversation.


  • Motivation & Inspiration
  • Leadership
  • Disability Awareness
  • Women’s Empowerment
  • Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion


After being hit by a car, Tricia Downing went from being a competitive cyclist to a paraplegic requiring a wheelchair for mobility. However, sixteen years after this pivotal moment, her unwavering resilience and fierce competitive spirit propelled her to remarkable achievements. She not only secured a spot on the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Team but also made history as the first female paraplegic to conquer an Ironman triathlon

She is the author of the book, Cycle of Hope—A Journey from Paralysis to Possibility and is now recognized as a pioneer in the sport of women’s paratriathlon as well as an advocate for disability awareness. Tricia believes we all have the power to create environments that are not disabling but enabling.

As a speaker, Tricia’s strength is authenticity. She speaks from the heart and uses her personal experiences to talk about resilience and belonging, diversity and hope. She balances heavy messages with moments of humor, reflection and an upbeat takeaway so her audiences can leave in a better mindset than when they came, and leave with lessons that resonate.

Tricia’s purpose is held in this short phrase: Each day I strive to build and strengthen diverse communities because I believe we all achieve more through authentic connection.



Tricia Downing was in the best shape of her life. An avid cyclist, Tricia traveled across the country for what amounted to eighteen races in twenty-three days. She returned from her adventure to a fresh start: a new job awaited her, and, determined to make the next summer the year she would make her mark on the world of cycling, she began a rigorous training strategy.

But Tricia Downing’s life took a detour. While training on her bicycle one sunny Colorado afternoon, Tricia collided with a car that turned directly in her path and instantly became paralyzed from the chest down. As she re-learned to do everything from sitting straight up to navigating through her house in a wheelchair to returning to work, her grueling recovery took her to the very core. Her inner strength helped her to not only learn how to live life as a paraplegic—a label that took time to grow accustomed to—but to have the courage to return to the competitive sport she loved and almost lost. Determined to live life on her terms, Tricia turned her misfortune into opportunity and is now a wheelchair athlete, competing regularly in events around the globe.

In her signature program, Redefining Able, Tricia Downing encourages participants to look within to define what they are capable of. By reframing challenges as opportunities, attendees will learn the skills to build resilience and be inspired to overcome their obstacles. We each have the ability to define our life. How will you redefine able?

  • Identify opportunities to turn perceived obstacles into opportunities
  • Apply the concept of reframing to personally challenging situations
  • Explain the importance of resilience-building


“Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes”

When people are asked to define their social identities often times race, ethnicity, gender, sex, & sexual orientation are the most commonly discussed. These are important but more often than not the social identity of ability is left out. Every day, people with disabilities are judged and typecast in a societal role without opening their mouths or being allowed to display their thoughts, talents, or a glimpse of life from where they stand (or sit).

How are common misconceptions and low expectations detracting from the abilities and assets of those who may navigate the world in different ways? What talents are we leaving on the table when we don’t include people with disabilities in mainstream activities or our greater society? Are there things you could be doing within your organizations that would make your workplace, products, or services more accessible?

In this program, organizations are challenged to evaluate and think differently about the challenges and barriers that may exist for disabled individuals. To truly embrace diversity, we must create inclusive environments for people to walk (or roll) through.

  • Identify the unique experience of disability
  • Become inspired to “think differently”
  • Create a more inclusive environment


Life is unpredictable. Have you ever been blindsided by a major change or roadblock in your personal or professional life? Had your heart set on a particular outcome, only to see it fall through your fingers? Felt overwhelmed and burned out?

It would be an ideal world if we could control when and where we take on challenges in our lives. But in the real world, challenges and change usually take us by surprise. Your reaction and ability to deal with these occurrences may be the difference between prospering or letting life get the best of you. How can you become more resilient in the face of adversity?

Let Tricia Downing take you on a journey of self-discovery as she shares the tactics she has learned through decades of athletic training and competition, as well as the skills she learned to rebound from her tragic and paralyzing accident.

  • Understand the importance of pro-actively building resilience
  • Learn practical tips for dealing with adversity
  • Learn the different elements of building resilience

Speaker Resources


To help you promote your event with Tricia, EVERGREEN has created promotional templates. In this folder, you will find resources for social media and press photos that you can use for your event.
Review Promotional Materials


Below you will find logistical resources for the day of your event with Tricia.
In-Person AV Needs (PDF)
Speaking Introduction (PDF)